After growing out of the obsessive compulsive need to explore new bands, something we all go through in our formative metal-listening years, do we really need to keep hearing newer metal? Who among us that has spent at least ten years of attentive appreciation really believes that there is something genuinely path-breaking that new metal has to offer? Genuine connoisseurs eventually reach a point where honest songwriting and emotion comes to be valued more over plastic innovation for the sake of it, sometimes the latter even despised to the point of outright dismissal. Real metal fans don’t care about fancy chord shapes and mathematical picking patterns, because while technique and chops are to be valued, these are only to be placed in the service of something more ephemeral. Metal drives itself on pure feeling; we can haggle endlessly over particulars like the non-linear songwriting that may separate At The Gates from Obituary, but the fundamentals don’t change. Great metal makes the heart thud in impossible ways.
By listening to too much metal – and by this is meant ten different bands on a weekly scale – we risk numbing our senses to aspects of this music that truly appealed to us in the first place. Name-dropping is best restricted to teenage years when one is eager for acceptance and constantly trying at one-upsmanship, but all experienced listeners know that this is an intentionally limited form of music we listen to. Everything that had to be said has been said, and in far better ways than is being said currently. Real metal fans, by sheer soulful involvement honed over time, learn to extract the essential from the chaff. This line of thought may be subject to cliched subjective-objective arguments, but there are collectors and there are archivists and then there are those that subscribe to pure, intuitive feeling. It is up to the individual to decide which bracket they occupy.
This was originally intended to be a metal review blog but I personally feel an increasing distaste for taking up the task of writing about new albums. Instead, it is much more fulfilling to talk about long-cherished facets of bands, albums, songs, and and the genre at large, because, ultimately, that is what truly matters in the face of curiosity-killing mediocrity. Reviewing new albums is important, no doubt, for posterity and objectivity to counter big-label favouritism, but that is a vocation best left up to good-willing samaritans. Instead, what I propose, is to choose an undisputed classic from a bygone time; Piece Of Mind, Reign In Blood, Pure Holocaust, Blessed Are The Sick, whatever be your taste, and devote a large percentage of your time over the next week to it. Savour the nuances, feel the music on an interstitial level, observe why it makes you feel what you do. Chances are you will come away with a better understanding of the music and of yourself by the end of it, for conscience doesn’t lie and the two evaluations aren’t mutually exclusive.